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Murder, We Spoke

From time to time I check out the TV Shows On DVD web site to see if there's going to be a release of the Murder, She Wrote TV movies collection. To clarify: Murder, She Wrote ran for twelve seasons on CBS, and was a favorite of mine. I watched it religiously, and have collected all twelve of the DVD season box sets. All that's left now is the release (if there is to be one) of the four TV movies Angela Lansbury starred in after the show went off the air. They aired from, 1997 to 2003. Their release would be a bittersweet occasion for me.

You see, not only would a box set of TV movies mark the end of Murder, She Wrote on home video, it would also serve as a reminder of a connection (one of the very few) I shared with my dad. We didn't have a lot in common, but we both quite enjoyed watching mystery programs on TV. In fact, when I later in life discovered the Ellery Queen show in reruns (I was born during its original airing), my mother remarked that it had been a favorite of my dad's. I found that comforting.

I can remember watching the premiere episode of Murder, She Wrote with my parents, during the Autumn of 1984. It was a Sunday night staple in our house and, after my parents divorced, my father & I would continue to watch it together (albeit in separate abodes), and call each other during commercial breaks to compare notes. This went on for a couple of years, but petered out after awhile. Truth be told, dad probably stopped watching it long before it went off the air in the Spring of 1996.

Autumn of 1996 is when dad received his terminal cancer diagnosis. Not long after that I heard rumors (later verified as fact) that there would be a Murder, She Wrote TV movie broadcast in the Autumn of 1997. I excitedly told my dad about it, to which his response was something along the lines of, "Oh, that's nice." If I'm to be honest, dad probably thought the show had gone on for too long, so the prospect of a TV movie didn't exactly set his world on fire. Besides, he had more pressing concerns at the time, such as staying alive with cancer, chemo, etc. And I understood this.

Regardless of circumstances (or, perhaps, because of them), I really wanted dad to see the new Murder, She Wrote TV movie. It was to be titled South by Southwest, and was set to air in November 1997. Despite the reality of dad's deteriorating health and waning enthusiasm for the program, I just wanted one more opportunity for us to watch and discuss a new Murder, She Wrote. To share in our love of TV mystery shows. It was one of the few interests we shared. Alas, it was not to be.

The Summer of 1997 was not good for dad. His health declined greatly, and he went on oxygen. In late August, he died. I didn't really think about Murder, She Wrote, until November 2, 1997, when South By Southwest was broadcast on CBS. It was enjoyable. As it ended, I wondered if my dad would have enjoyed it, too.


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